Apocalypse Meow

(Megan Cooke/AQ)
Cats have become a popular online phenomenon (Megan Cooke/AQ)

Feline lovers and their meowy memes are taking over the Internet and you have as much chance of stopping them as you do of herding cats.

In May 2008, China was hit with an 8.0 earthquake. It’s government had trouble censoring all of the amateur media as a flood of pictures and videos of the destruction were uploaded. For the first time, nine of the top 10 clicked links on Twitter were about news happening in China.

What wasn’t surprising was that number two on the list was about kittens on treadmills. It seems the Egyptians aren’t the only ones who worship cats.

“(Cats) make great mascots for the whole Internet generation because they’re kind of just doing their own thing. They’re a little bit of an asshole, which incorporates the troll side of the Internet,” says Alex Solak, a STU grad who works in social media with Tourism New Brunswick.

“The old phrase, the internet is for cats I believe predates the more true expression, the internet is for porn.”

Five minutes on the internet will reveal to you just how deep the obsession goes. Boy, do we have a problem. There are memes like grumpy cat, hipster cat, business cat, lil bub, maru, nyan cat, longcat, lolcat pictures, not to mention the 18,700,000 results for “cat videos” on YouTube. Memes are ideas, often in pictureform, that travel through a culture person-to-person. Memes and cats go together like rabbits and Australia. We spread cats over the internet like TMZ spreads rumors. A simple picture and text can go viral, spawning thousands of copies and variations.

Cats are everywhere from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, to even darker parts of the internet like 4chan. How did this madness start?

While “hang-in-there-baby” posters of kittens gripping chinup bars decorated dorm rooms going back to the 70s, the obsession with cats really got going in that simpler time when people thought American Pie was funny and Britney Spears sexy, the late 1990s.

In technologically advanced countries, especially Japan where cats are easily the most popular pet, internet users were getting their first chance to upload their own pictures to the World Wide Web. Message boards started having events like “Caturday” (quite possibly the original sin to this madness). The personal blog became the new hip thing, and people started uploading every mundane fact about their meaningless existence (I’m looking at you Carrie Bradshaw). And what’s more mundane than the stuff your cat does?

Our cat obsession cemented its internet domination in 2005 with the launch of the video-sharing site YouTube. Looking back at those early videos, most of us felt helpless to do anything but listen to Keyboard Cat play our funeral march as we silently slipped into submission.

With the introduction of more hobby-oriented social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, pushing back against this feline infiltration would be about as easy as, well, herding cats, according to Solak.

“Cats have become such a sustaining and long-term running meme on the internet at this point I worry that there is no way for even the most staunch cat haters to really overthrow something that is the basis of this society,” said Solak, the only journalism program grad known to write computer code.

“It is such a deep, deep foundation that they’ve built into the internet as a whole.”

First-year STU student Claire Logan has been in a catatonic state for years, letting her love of cats leak from pictures on the internet into her real life when she convinced her mother to purchase her pet, Izzy.

“(Cat memes) are not detrimental,” she tries to convince me. “I think anything that makes people laugh is a good thing.”

She preaches that cats and humans can live side by side as brothers in a symbiotic relationship.

But as she recites this “catifesto,” she also indicates how much cats have infiltrated her life. “I miss my cat probably more than my family.”

As I continue my conversation with Logan, one pattern emerges. Cats don’t require any effort to own, they may be the laziest animals on the planet. And that’s where it dawns on me, their plan for total global dominance.

The Internet memes are just distractions to stop us from participating in life and seeing the menace that lies just beneath our keyboards.

The horror, the cute irresistible horror! Can anyone stop this Meowist cultural revolution?

Pugs, maybe. Pugs will free us from our enslavement to cat memes. Or at least that’s what these 41 reasons I’ve been reading for the last half-an-hour on Buzzfeed seem to think.

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